Taste the Art

€50.11

THEY SAY THAT THE EYES FEED FIRST, THEN THE BODY FOLLOWS.

The idea behind this book started in the land of smiles - Thailand. The specific aroma of Asian cuisine embraces everyone who sets foot in this land. This fragrance lingers in the mind, enriching the memories associated with the exotic. One of the festivals celebrated there, which is deeply connected to the story of this book, is the festival of the floating lanterns. Its preparation begins with the crafting of small boats made out of banana leaves in the shape of lotus flowers, lavishly adorned with petals and candles, before being set afloat in flowing water to ward off evil and usher in good fortune. Every year, countless burning lights reflect the stars of the night sky, creating a unique picture, joining together the earth and the skies. According to legend, more than 700 years ago, in the royal palace, during the preparations for the festival, one of the court maids decorated her lantern with flowers and birds made out of fruit and vegetables. Over the years, a competition developed, challenging people to build the most beautiful lantern using this unique decoration style. Gradually, this tradition found its way onto the King’s table. This tradition would stay within the palace’s gates for hundreds of years before spreading to captivate the world. Nowadays, the art of fruit and vegetable carving primarily serves as decoration in restaurants, at themed events, festivals, weddings, and in advertisements. Courses and competitions are held to showcase expertise and foster the exchange of new ideas and innovations. I have often been asked about the purpose of this practice and the apparent waste of produce. My belief has always been rooted in the philosophy that this art aims to feed the eyes before the body. It encourages us to perceive food differently, focusing our attention on the ingredients and their preparation. Fruit and vegetable carving takes time, patience, knowledge and a considerable amount of effort. You don’t need to be an artist to create a simple, yet beautiful table decoration. Various motifs, geometric and floral elements are memorized and combined sequentially to achieve the desired effect. While there are numerous “magic” tools available that can facilitate the process, using them results in a different kind of decoration. In fruit and vegetable carving, we primarily work with a tool known as the Tai-knife or Thai carving knife (the term ‘carving’ is derived from English ‘fruit and vegetable carving’). However, to transform fruit and vegetable carving into a new kind of modern art and exhibit it as a photographic image on walls, one is to become both an artist and a painter. After many years of dedicated learning, competing, and teaching, I aspired to make the art of beautiful food accessible to all. Inspired by an image on a wall or a photograph, anyone could transform their plates into canvases, allowing this art to find its way into every home. This not-so-easy task was embraced by the amazing person, my longtime friend and musician, Yolanta Delibosova-Yolly. Her recipes serve as a reflection or an alternative interpretation of the food, whether it is in the form of carving or arrangement. Accessible to all, clearly explained and fully executable, these recipes show that a well-cooked dish can always become a work of art. We don’t need to do anything complicated to make food look appealing. Even the delicate aroma of fresh fruit from the bowl on the table can entice us to reach for one of them. In this book, we have shared interesting facts and fundamental information about certain products or techniques used. Just as in nature, balance is essential in cooking. Cook with desire, imagination and don’t be afraid to experiment. Have fun.

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